Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The dew of May, which is said to have great virtue in whitening linen, and to have also other remarkable properties. It is still the practice for young people in some parts of Great Britain to go out into the fields in the morning of the first of May, and bathe their faces with May-dew—a survival of the impression or belief of former times that it preserves beauty.
“As I looked at his sensitive young face, unmarred by pleasure and unscathed by sorrow, bathed daily, I surmised, in the may-dew of high philosophies -- ah, so high! washed from within by a constant radiancy of pure thoughts, and from without by a constant basking in the shine of every beautiful and noble and tender thing, -- I thought it not unlikely that he might fulfil his dream.”
“When the damsels of old gathered may-dew on the grass, which they made use of to improve their complexions, they left undisturbed such of it as they perceived on the fairy rings, apprehensive that the fairies should in revenge destroy their beauty, nor was it reckoned safe to put the foot within the rings, lest they should be liable to fairies 'power.”
“To say nothing Of many false helps, and contraband wares of beauty, which are daily vended in this great mart, there is not a maiden gentlewoman, of a good family, in any county of _South Britain_, who has not heard of the virtues of may-dew, or is unfurnished with some receipt or other in favour of her complexion; and I have known a physician of learning and sense, after eight years study in the university and a course of travels into most countries of _Europe_, owe the first raising of his fortune to a cosmetic wash.”
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